Sheltering from storms in Moreton Bay

Friday (19th February) we awoke to another grey and miserable day in Tipplers anchorage. However it was not too busy with boat traffic and it didn’t rain, so definitely an improvement on recent days.

We had a lazy day on board then, about 4pm when most of the day trippers had left, we headed ashore and had a few drinks and nibbles. We were lucky enough to have another wallaby encounter but no huge lizards this time. Back on board around 6pm and, by now, the weekend crowd were starting to arrive so we had the usual anchor shenanigans as they all tried to get set for the night.

Saturday morning we got ourselves ready to leave Tipplers and waited for the tide to turn. So at 10.15 we were heading north an hour after low tide, through the gap between South Stradbroke and North Stradbroke islands at Jumpinpin and then into the Canaipa passage. During the trip, winding our way through the shallow river system, we picked up about a knot of boat speed as we were lifted by the tide and we saw no less than 1m under the keel so we had timed this 15 mile run just about right. Sad sight at The Huts anchorage, though, where we saw that an abandoned boat had finally sunk in recent weather events. Wonder who is responsible for cleaning all that up?

As we neared Canaipa, we snuck under the overhead power lines (which always look closer to the top of the mast than they really are) and anchored on the west side of the river as we were expecting winds from the NW / W overnight. A few other boats joined us and we watched big clouds building and heading out to sea, thankfully they didn’t affect us.

We sat in the cockpit and enjoyed watching a large camp of fruit bats fly through as they headed to North Stradbroke Island to roost for the night. We also had a very brief dolphin and dugong visitation. They literally show themselves for seconds and disappear right beneath the stern so no chance for a decent photograph but, oh, what a treat!

Sunday we stayed on anchor at Canaipa and had an admin day onboard continuing with our online visa applications. When we called it a day we sat in the cockpit and were then visited by some strange looking yellow-eyed flies and we soon found out that they bite, hard! So we lit our insect smoke coils and left them burning in the cockpit (in a suitable container obviously) while we took ourselves down below to escape. The rain then started and the water became flat calm. After the rain we were treated to the most beautiful cloud formations and a fire-red sunset. One of our neighbours took a photo and loaded it up on Facebook showing Morphie at anchor in Canaipa lit by the most astonishing sky. Beautiful or what?!?

Monday morning we weighed anchor at 8am with our destination 19 miles away at the Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club Marina in Manly. Another marina…sigh….but the weather forecast was consistently for severe thunderstorms and we would rather be safely tied to a dock and surrounded by large masts than sitting it out on the hook. We felt very lucky to have been able to get a berth booked at such short notice for a three night stay.

It was really hot and still in the morning and we got a picture of our neighbour in the lovely morning light. There was no wind so we motored across the glassy water in the Bay and had more encounters. This time it was a turtle, another dugong, and a ray jumping completely out of the water. What a great start to the day!

We arrived into the marina, found our berth, and got ourselves organised. Richard hooked up the power, rinsed Morphie off and re-installed the canvas while I headed into the office with all our documentation to check in. In Australia the marinas insist on a minimum of $10mn public liability insurance plus a copy of the Border Force Control Permit to allow you to stay, so I already had that ready for them. Checked in, security gate key fob in hand, I returned to Morphie. Have to say, on first impressions, we think the MBTBC marina beats the neighbouring East Coast Marina hands down in terms of facilities and quality of the docks and services. Plus it is literally across the road from Manly village so very accessible for re-provisioning etc. Here is Morphie settling into her new slip.

Later in the afternoon we headed out to the Moreton Bay Boat Trailer Boat Clubhouse (literally across the car park) and paid $5 to become an annual member. This gave us significant discounts on all food and drinks so we managed to recoup our outlay in less than two hours!

We took a seat on the outside balcony and enjoyed a view across the channel leads into the harbour entrance which serves four marinas. A really lovely place to enjoy a couple of cold ones. Then the discussion turned to food so we checked out the Club’s simple menu but were very excited by the ‘curry of the week’ option of a chicken tikka masala with basmati rice and a roti. OMG we haven’t had a proper curry for about a year and, although expectations were low, we both decided to order it anyway. It turned up after about 15 minutes and it was absolutely divine….very authentic with fabulous flavours. All I can say is Yum.

Suitably replete we returned to Morphie and watched the clouds roll in and then the heavens opened but thankfully no thunderstorms. The rain was biblical in nature and the wind gusts were significant so we were pretty sure we had made the right decision to shelter out here for a few days.

Tuesday morning we were up very early and Richard started by doing routine engine checks when he realised that the fresh water pump was leaking a small amount of coolant. Doing some research it became clear that these are very difficult to repair and Yanmar themselves actually recommend a straightforward replacement. So Richard got in touch with a company in the Boatworks to order a new pump on our behalf. In the meantime we’ll nurse the engine and top up the coolant as we go until we can get this replaced.

Doing his other boat checks he also noticed that the Balmar SG200 battery monitor would not cycle through all the modes AGAIN. So he disconnected and restarted it only to find that the readings were complete garbage as our house battery bank’s state of health should definitely not be 100% after two years of use. We have been having battles for about a year with Balmar about this unit as we keep insisting that it is faulty and their helpdesk troubleshooting advice works in the first instance (sometimes) but then, soon after, it goes into meltdown again and we have to keep reverting to their helpdesk. This time, thankfully, they finally agreed to replace it. Woo hoo! We just need to work out the logistics to make that happen now. Phew….

In the meantime I continued doing admin – this time it was to apply for Australian Federal Police Checks which are needed for the visa process. Their system was playing up but, eventually, I managed to get them completed and paid for.

Afterwards we both headed out to the shops and topped up with some basic provisions. Once back on board after we had stowed our shopping we had a lazy afternoon sitting watching the clouds build. We had dinner down below and then returned to the cockpit. OMG the storms were building, it was getting dark, the internet was lit up with warnings and radar images, and then it started. There were multiple storms all around us with lightning shows, thunder and torrential rain and it went on for over two hours. Was very exciting because it wasn’t immediately on top of us and, thankfully, no hail. Phew!

Wednesday morning it remained cloudy and stormy. Richard was swapping out the shower bilge pump while I headed into town again for more shopping. I got back and Richard had just finished so we then stripped beds, sorted out all the washing, and headed up to the laundry area. We put the machines on, got a propane fill sorted there and then, and then sat outside in the BBQ area while we waited for the laundry to finish. All very civilised.

Whilst there I called AmEx’s fraud team to query a charge which had been taken by a company without permission. As this ‘purchase’ had allegedly been done via PayPal we raised a potential fraud case with them too. It turns out that the vendor involved is well known and ‘auto renews’ annual software products sold to customers previously (at virtually triple the cost in my case) without informing the purchaser or seeking approval despite no previous authority being given. So very happy that the card wasn’t compromised; the ‘purchase’ was cancelled; and the vendor has been blocked from charging me ever again. Thankfully all resolved to my satisfaction that afternoon.

Back on board we relaxed before heading back out to the Club for a drink. We had planned to then go to a local restaurant for a fish and chip supper but, very naughtily, we both succumbed to the curry again and it was just as good as the first time. Wednesday night in the Club was very busy as it was Parmy night (which is chicken parmigiana and one of Australia’s most popular dishes) for only $14. For the uninitiated this is a breaded fried chicken snitzel coated in tomato sauce with grilled cheese on top served with salad and chips.

Oh yes and Wednesday night is race night at the local marinas here so we enjoyed watching all the little ducklings return to base for the night from the outside balcony.

We decided to move on to the Celtic Corner pub in Manly village before returning to Morphie. The barmaid screwed up my order so it had to be redone; we had to fight to get a seat; and the price was $10 more than the same round in the Club. So if we come back this way again, think the pub has seen the last of us LOL.

This morning, Thursday, it was raining and while Richard was preparing the boat to depart I quickly went into town to pick up some fresh bread, fruit and vegetables, got rid of our last minute rubbish, and then returned our key fob to the marina office. Definitely think we’ll be back here, such a friendly place.

By 10 am we were making our way through the leads and headed out towards the Sandhills anchorage, Moreton Island, just under 16 miles away. The weather deteriorated and it poured with rain for a while with poor visibility but nothing out of the ordinary….

Eventually the rain cleared, we arrived at our destination, and had our anchor down by 1pm. Lovely spot – really glad to be back. This time, though, there was a fishing camp that had been set up in the shallows so we watched them go about their business also checking out the pelicans who were clearly hoping for a tasty handout.

So that’s it for now folks. We are looking forward to exploring more of Moreton Island over the next few days as the wind is coming from the right direction to make these anchorages tenable and the weather forecast is nice and stable – fingers crossed of course!

In the meantime, we have caught up with the ongoing Covid vaccination programme at home and were delighted to hear the plan of when they are going to ease the restrictions. There is still a way to go but definitely light at the end of a very long tunnel. Keep safe and well everybody, sending hugs as always. So to cheer you up in lockdown here is another tiny Australian cutie to make you smile – this one is a baby orphaned Antechinus.